UH International Piano Festival Celebrating 30th Anniversary

Abbey Simon, founder of the International Piano Festival and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Distinguished Professor of Music

Age hasn’t slowed down the University of Houston’s International Piano Festival. This year, the celebrated festival turns 30, but it retains the spark that’s made it one of the city’s most anticipated musical events.

Just as the festival has maintained its musical energy, so has its founder UH distinguished professor of piano Abbey Simon, who turns 91 this year. Simon founded the festival in 1984 and continues to be one of its marquee performers. Each year, he and guest pianists deliver recitals and master classes at UH.

This year’s event runs Feb. 1 – 3 and will feature Simon, Inon Barnatan and Larissa Dedova. Recitals will be performed in the Moores Opera House, and master classes will be conducted in UH’s Dudley Recital Hall. Festival tickets can be purchased at the Moores Opera House box office or reserved by calling 713-743-3313. Prices are as follows:

  • Recitals only - $60, $35 for students and seniors
  • Recitals and master classes - $85, $45 for students and seniors
  • Single recitals - $25, $15 for students and seniors
  • Single master classes - $10, $5 for students and seniors
  • Artist conversations luncheon (12:30 p.m., Feb. 4) - $15

A child prodigy, Simon began playing the piano when he was 3 years old. He heard music on the radio, then replicated the sounds on a nearby piano. Since then, Simon has tirelessly worked to create music. Trained by virtuoso composer Josef Hofmann, Simon became one of the world’s top concert pianists. In 1977, he joined the faculty at UH and holds the title of Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Distinguished Professor of Music.

Barnatan was born in Tel Aviv and began playing piano at the age of three. At age 11, he made his orchestral debut. He studied under noted pianist/teacher Victor Derevianko and attended London’s Royal Academy of Music. In 2006, he moved to the U.S. and has performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and orchestras in Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Barnatan also has taken his talents around the world and performed in Israel, the Netherlands, China, Canada and the United Kingdom. In 2006, he released a compact disc showcasing the works of Schubert, which met with praise from critics and classical music fans. For more details on Barnatan, visit his website.

Dedova is a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Music. Outside of the university, she has performed in some of the world’s most esteemed concert halls including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Rome’s Teatro Ghiome, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory and others. Her talents have earned top honors in international piano competitions such as the Bach International Competition in Leipzig, Germany and Pro Piano International Piano Competition in New York. In 1994, she was named the “Honored Artist of Russia.” Dedova has recorded several albums including a four-disc set “Complete Piano Music by Debussy” ( Centaur Records) in 2011. She is the first Russian pianist to record all of Debussy’s solo music for piano. To learn more about Dedova, visit her website.

A schedule of recitals and master classes is as follows:


Recitals – Moores Opera House

7:30 p.m., Feb. 1 – Abbey Simon (Selections from Beethoven, Schumann, Ravel, Prokiev)

7:30 p.m., Feb 2 – Inon Barnatan (Selections from Debussy, Britten/Stevenson, Ades, Ravel, Schubert)

3 p.m., Feb. 3 – Larissa Dedova (Selections from Mozart, Chopin, Debussy)


Artist Conversations Luncheon (Room 108, Moores School of Music)

12:30 p.m., Feb. 2


Master Classes – Dudley Recital Hall 

9 a.m., Feb. 2 – Larissa Dedova

2 p.m., Feb. 2 – Abbey Simon

11:30 a.m., Feb. 3 – Inon Barnatan


                  For complete details on the International Piano Festival, visit the IPF website.